Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blues, all colours


Rhapsody in Blue by Pants


Last year I made a frantic number of digital photographs on the theme of blue. It's taken me a year to get around to looking at all of them as a series. It's a bit that way with me at the moment.

The long-suffering amongst you might recall that I endured a disastrous year at the Larrikin's End School of Fine Art and Advanced Macramé where I learned only to deeply mistrust anyone within a hundred-mile radius. I am still harrowed at night by the sceptre of the bearded ex-Canadian who screeched at us,

Don't underestimate the waink fuk-tuurrr. The waink fuk-tuurrr. The ferkain waink fuk-turrrr.

The innocence of my artistic youth was virtually raped away that day and my sanity is never likely to be fully restored. But I must do stuff. So I will do stuff.

My inability to calibrate my project cycle with the resources to hand may well be my undoing in the end. I didn't ever get around to 'photoshopping' these pictures while I had access to decent equipment. But it doesn't matter. None of it ever does.

I think of a song I often used to play and sing called All Blues. It's an easy piece. The tune, by Miles Davis, appears for the first time on Kind of Blue. It's one of my favourite records. The modal, 6/8 rhythm is the perfect platform for introspection. Oscar Brown Jnr. wrote mesmerisingly simple lyrics.

A colour, a colour, the blues is more than a colour.

I'm not much of a piano player but, to paraphrase Scarlett O'Hara, I can hold a cross-rhythm if I don't have to shoot too far. You're playing a simple rhythm and singing across it and you can spice it up with rubato. You steal from the rhythm and it steals right back from you because the rules of music dictate that you have to both arrive at the end at the same time.

Many would argue that Miles Davis was the boss of that territory. I might throw in a vote for Thelonious Monk. Growing up listening to Thelonious Monk, or even Miles Davis, is probably not an experience too many Australian kids in the 1960s would have had. I am grateful for it. My road into this music began with the novelties that were standard fare for American jazz musicians wanting to reach the mainstream record-buying audience.

It began for me as I'm sure it did for many others with Cab Calloway's Minnie the Moocher. My father was brilliant at bringing home batches of second-hand vinyl LPs that contained novelties to keep the kids amused.

And then one day my Dad brought home Rhapsody in Blue. I think I can probably still sing the whole thing in my head. But right now, there are a lot of things my head needs to do other than hum Rhapsody in Blue all day long.

So, I'm going to take a break...